If you are interested in marching in the Town of Unicoi Christmas parade…
Line up is at the Unicoi Funeral Home Parking lot at 1:30. Parade is at 2:00.
War is Hell! For all the men and women who fought for our freedom and way of life, this was and is a true statement. On November 7 and 8,though, for us it was a WALK IN THEIR BOOTS through a time-warp into the past. In honor of veterans past and present, various groups in the region got together to portray the lives and hardships of those who fought in military campaigns from the Revolution, to the War of 1812, to the Civil War and World War I and II. On Sunday, the timeline continued and was teamed with the Harvest celebration inside Fort Watauga where the reenactors got together and shared a meal of Thanksgiving.
I got there early Friday morning to finish getting cabin 4 ready and raw materials stowed away for the cooking demo I was planning over the next two days. The weather was mild and cloudy but rain was coming and everyone knew it. Because of that, some of the groups, like the paratroopers from Knoxville, could not come and others had to rethink their displays. It was pretty quiet and a few people were there setting up but not many, not yet anyway. As the afternoon progressed, one could see camps being set up. The Civil War camp was impressive, an officers’s tent was attached and fly for the officers to meet to discuss strategies. There was also a hospital and the surgeon was discussing medicine of the time.
Over at the 1812 area, tables were set up for information and displays. The World War II camp was in the woods, German and Allied and a lone tent for the World War 1 doughboy. Earl Slagle set up a longhunter camp in the woods and Will Caldwell set up the tavern as a Tory stronghold. They were landlocked sailors, actually, protesting being pressed into service. I have to say at this point, of all the reenactors there, there were two sets that were the most poignant this year for me. One was Kurt Stevens, the Doughboy, walking around with his blanket over his shoulders, rifle slung over his shoulder, eating his soup ration. His impression was meticulous and I could just imagine a fellow as slight as him, stuck in a trench , miserable, doing the best that he could ,eating a thin gruel trying to keep his strength up, wishing it was his Ma’s home cooking.
The other was unexpected. Randy and Steven Knapp portrayed West Virginia coal miners involved in the Coal wars of the 1920’s. It reminded me that struggles were not limited to armies, foreign and domestic and these men truly suffered.
Saturday was WET; it could have been worse as it could have been cold and wet but even so, attendance was light. Everybody had a good time in spite of the rain and you could see all manners of activity in the various camps and inside the fort. You could hear laughter from the tavern, pots and pans clattering in the Talbot House, doughnuts frying and cookies and cider being served to the veterans in the Hillbilly Hilton and children playing games in the primitive cabin nearby. The Watauga Fife and Drum played throughout the day and you could hear the Civil War drummers in the distance.
Doug Ledbetter had a great display of Continental uniforms and the Doans completed the display with war weapons of the Revolution. Because of the weather, the World War II fellows moved their display to inside the visitor’s center. Also, the Seige of the Fort was canceled as it’s hard to shoot muskets in the rain, but the Civil War skirmish and WW II ambush went as scheduled.
Sunday was much better with the weather and everyone’s spirits were light. John Cornett was the tavern keeper and he poked his head in the tavern. The night before the sailors were grogging and singing shanties and were sound asleep. John woke them up saying ” you have one hour to turn this military flophouse into a respectable Colonial tea room.” CLASSIC!!!
Everyone who had a pot was cooking , preparing for the meal at noon and the rest attended church in the WW II camp.
After church, the Militia formed and drilled. I was amazed that they were actually in a straight line!!! Militia, being what it is, always forms rather crookedly. Later in the day, I heard the cannon booming. that always thrills the crowd.
At noon, the tables were groaning with food and the Militia invited all the reenactors present to share. It was a delicious meal and everyone socialized , swapped stories and enjoyed each other’s company.
After the meal, the Civil War boys encored with a skirmish and The Krauts were routed in the woods. How they did it on a full stomach beats me!
The weekend could have been a total bust but as it was, it turned out great! The public, though light both days, enjoyed the event and all honored those men and women who sacrificed so much for our country.
To those who lived in the Eastern Appalachians in the last decades of the 1700’s, the Revolutionary War was a distant drumbeat being fought and stalemated somewhere up north. For these people, it was an echo in the mountains that surrounded their hard scrabble lives. For the most part, though there were others, these early settlers on the frontier were not English, per se, but came from the large Irish territory, the Ulster Plantation. These Scot-Irish whose ancestors where already displaced once, ignored the Royal Proclamation where George III promised the indigenous peoples that there would be no British subjects settling permanently west of the Alleghenies and dug out a tenuous life in the wilderness and lived as they wished.
The call of war sounded closer when the British decided to end the stalemate , invade the Southern colonies thus splitting the colonies and the resistance with the hope of ending the war. They banked on loyalists fighting along side the British soldiers. What they didn’t bank on was the ragtag group, these “mongrels”, “barbarians” , these “Backwater Men” as Major Patrick Furgeson disparagingly called them, who sometimes appeared in the low countries, who fought like devils with their strange Indian cries, who could fell a deer at 200 yards, who harbored rebels and their families in the depths of the mountains and lived to fight another day. The sound of war was made crashingly real when Furgeson,commissioned by Cornwallis to subdue the rebels on his western flank, out of frustration, threatened the leaders of this group by saying If the Rebels “did not desist from their opposition to the British arms,” he would “march his army over the mountains, hang their leaders and lay their country waste with fire and sword.” This enraged the leaders of these very independent people who mustered over a thousand men and set off on a 330 mile journey in a nine day march which brought defeat to the Tories and death to Furgeson. These men set off ,not to fight for a nation but to defend their cabins and farms and the mountain life they valued.
Every year in September, The Washington County Regiment , in conjunction with the OVTA (Overmountain Victory Trail Association) , holds its commemoration of the Overmountain Men’s gathering at Sycamore Shoals. This year it was held on September 25 through 27th. It threatened rain all weekend, so much so that the school day scheduled for Friday was cancelled. The day turned out sunny, however and the historic site hosted the Tennessee State Guard who were on maneuvers at the park. I didn’t stop for a head count but I bet there was a hundred if there was one, and It was really cool to see them mass together, so erect and so serious. The Watauga Valley Fife and Drum leading the way, the Militia, distaff members and the whole company of Guard participated in crossing the Watauga as the Overmountain Men did 235 years ago. Prior to the crossing, Steve Ricker told the story of the battle of Kings Mountain to a rapt audience and the Reverend Doak, played by George Cobb, gave that rousing sermon which rededicated the men and brought the men’s determination to a fever pitch.
After the crossing the Overmountain Men , followed by Representatives of the First Tennessee Regiment (War of 1812) and then the whole contingent of the Tennessee State Guard assembled in the ampitheater for a short program. It brought home that there has been a continuum of volunteer service protecting communities here and wherever they are needed for the last 235 years and that these last are the inheritors of a grand tradition. One member of the Guard sang the most beautiful rendition of the national anthem I’ve ever heard and there were speeches. Then three guardsmen were singled out for recognition for excellence.
The Guard, the OVTA and the National Park Service all had display stations at the visitors’ center and they stayed all weekend, providing the public with information and answering questions.
Saturday was another one of those days, threatening rain which never came. There was good traffic throughout the weekend where people came and saw various displays of 18th century living. one of the more interesting ones , I though, was Ken and Retha Reece’s display of trekking equipment and how one made pemmicin to take on trips. There were militia drills throughout the day and the crowd pleasing cannon demonstration in the latter part of the afternoon.
After the public left for the day, many of the members went to the burial site of Mary Patton who provided the excellent black powder for the Overmountain Men. She was remembered in a moving ceremony culimnating in a military salute and the pouring of black powder on her grave.
Sunday was less fast paced and more relaxed. Under cloudy skies, George Cobb preached the sermon explaining the references to the sword of Gideon and Macedonia. The park was lightly attended which was just as well as the militia got together for the first time, and actually was able to socialize.
I think the members were gathering their reserves to see the changing of officers in the afternoon. At 3 :30, Colonel Bob McCroskey stepped down as Colonel of the Militia and passed the baton to now Colonel Chadwick Bogart. It was very moving to hear Bob enumerate the accomplishments of the regiment over his six-year tenure, listen to his reasons for stepping down and read Chad’s commission to him and all assembled. Chad had tears in his eyes and he accepted the commission and praised Bob for his service, His first command , though, was to the distaff members as he bellowed ” you WILL Wear modesty cloths at ALL TIMES”. The verdict? Yep, he has what it takes as every woman looked down at her chest to see that her cloth was put on correctly.
It was a busy weekend, full of fun and emotion as the Washington Co. Regiment of North Carolina Militia, the OVTA and the TN State Guard met together to commemorate one of the most important events in the Up Country of North Carolina.
To the Washington County Militia,
The past six years have been by far the best when it comes to historic interpretation at Sycamore Shoals. That is because our unit, the Washington County NC Militia, has been committed to two things… rekindling old friendships with fellow reenactors and breathing new life into what had become a stagnated atmosphere in the living history feature of the park. Through this we have become an outstanding group of committed living historians.
This has been done, in large part, by the leadership of our Colonel, Bob McCroskey. Bob was the perfect choice to kick start the new unit back in 2009, and he has been a fantastic leader ever since. Bob has faced some difficult health issues over the past year or so and has not been able to be with us as much as he would like. Due to this, Bob has decided to step down as Colonel of the Militia. I know that you all join me in thanking Bob for the tremendous job he has done for us these past six years.
THANK YOU SIR FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART!
Bob’s resignation opened up the need for a new colonel and I wanted to let the membership know that I have been contacted by the Committee of Safety, and they have offered me the position.
After a lot of thought and prayer I have decided to accept the offer. I definitely do not plan to replace Bob, as no one could. I will, however, try to continue in Bob’s footsteps and lead our unit as best I can. I will need all the help I can get as I may be calling on many of you to assist in new and challenging ways. Any and all encouragement will be greatly welcomed and appreciated.
The change of command will take place at 2:30 on Sunday afternoon, this weekend during the muster event. Bob’s request is for as many as can make it to please attend the ceremony.
Again I want to personally thank Bob for all he has done for the unit, and I look forward to him being with us when he can. I also look forward to the future of the unit and to us all moving forward together.
Your Most Obedient Servant,
Major Chad Bogart
Chad A. Bogart
Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area
Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area Presents:
The Overmountain Victory Trail Celebration
Friday, Saturday and Sunday,
September 25, 26 and 27
It was the year 1780. The tide of the Revolution had turned against the colonists. The British, forced out of New England, gained new allies in the divided South and won victory after victory in a bloody civil war. Charleston had fallen, and American forces had crumbled at the battle of Camden. But then the impossible occurred…The frontiersmen of the western mountains began a long march, gathering an army along the way, from the highlands of Virginia to the hills of South Carolina. There, at a place called King’s Mountain, they destroyed an army and opened the way for the final American victory at Yorktown.
The route they took from Virginia to South Carolina, we now know as the Overmountain Victory Trail. Come celebrate with us as we recreate the muster of the Overmountain Men, which occurred here at Sycamore Shoals over two hundred years ago. Re-enactors in period clothing will be on hand throughout the weekend to share stories of the excitement and danger of that tumultuous time.
The celebration kicks off at 2:00 pm on Friday, September 25th as the Overmountain Victory Trail Association recreates the historic Watauga River crossing. For the past 40 years Members of the OVTA have recreated this historic occurrence since 1975, following the same route and timetable as their legendary forebears from Abingdon, VA to Kings Mountain, SC.
In conjunction with the OVTA crossing, the Tennessee State Guard will be celebrating their 235th anniversary as they trace their inception to the gathering of the Overmountain Men at Sycamore Shoals in 1780. Tennessee State Guardsmen will join the OVTA in the recreation of the Watauga River crossing. Following the crossing the Tennessee State Guard will hold a timeline Pass in Review showcasing the guard’s involvement in Tennessee’s military history.
The celebration continues both Saturday and Sunday as the Washington County Militia present living history demonstrations and activities in and around Fort Watauga. Also, as part of the weekend’s activities, join us as we celebrate National Public Land’s Day on Saturday, September 26. At 1:00 pmjoin Historic Interpreter Chad Bogart on a special guided walk through the grounds of Sycamore Shoals and along portions of the walking path. Discover the vital role Sycamore Shoals played in the early frontier community, and how its significance would impact our nation’s history. Hear the story of the Overmountain Men and their historic gathering at Sycamore Shoals.
It will be a fun filled and action packed weekend sure to entertain and educate all ages. Admission is free so bring the entire family and relive some of the most crucial days of the American Revolution.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25th
2:00 – Watauga River Crossing – Members of the Overmountain Victory Trail Association and the Tennessee State Guard recreate the historic crossing of September 25th, 1780.
Following the Crossing – TN State Guard Timeline Pass in Review – The Tennessee State Guard celebrates its 235th anniversary by showcasing their involvement in the state’s military history. Program presented in the Fort Watauga Amphitheater.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 26th
9:00 – “The Sword of the Lord and of Gideon” – Join The Overmountain Men inside Fort Watauga as they assemble for morning colors and then listen to the stirring words of Reverend Samuel Doak as he delivers his famous sermon and prayer. The militia then departs in search of Patrick Ferguson and the tory army.
11:00 – “Gearing up for War” – Join Ken and Retha Reece inside Fort Watauga and learn about the gear, equipment, and food carried by the Overmountain Men in their campaign to Kings Mountain.
12:00 – “Echoes of Revolution” – Join the Watauga Valley Fifes and Drums for an exciting glimpse into the musical world of the 18th century.
1:00 – “Trail Talk: Walking in Frontier Footsteps” – To celebrate National Public Lands Day, join historic interpreter Chad Bogart for a guided walk along the park trail as he recounts the story of the Overmountain Men and their historic gathering at Sycamore Shoals. Program begins at Fort Watauga.
2:00 – “Life on the Homefront” – Come to the Talbot House for a look at the woman’s role on the 18th century frontier. See how the women and children fared after the militia had marched off in search of Patrick Ferguson and the Tory army.
3:00 – “Every Seventh Man” – Oral tradition states that the Overmountain Men left behind one in seven to guard the settlements as they went in search of the tory army. Witness the Watauga Home Guard drill and hone their skills as defenders of the frontier. Learn about the different firearms used in Colonial America.
4:00 – Camps Close – Join us tomorrow for another exciting day of life on the colonial frontier!
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 27th
10:00 – Worship Service – Feel free to join the militia for Sunday morning service held in the courtyard of Fort Watauga. Following the service witness the Washington County Militia fall in for inspection of arms, and orders are given for the day.
12:00 – Artillery Demonstration – Join members of the Washington County Militia as they fire the fort’s cannon and talk about artillery in the 18th century.
1:00 – “Life on the Homefront” – Come to the Talbot House for a look at the woman’s role on the 18th century frontier. See how the women and children fared after the militia had marched off in search of Patrick Ferguson and the Tory army.
2:00 – “Every Seventh Man” – Oral tradition states that the Overmountain Men left behind one in seven to guard the settlements as they went in search of the tory army. Witness the Watauga Home Guard drill and hone their skills as defenders of the frontier. Learn about the different firearms used in Colonial America.
3:00 – Retiring the Colors – Camps Close – Thank you for joining us for a great day of frontier living history. Join us next time!
ONGOING ACTIVITIES FOR BOTH DAYS INCLUDE:
Open Hearth Cooking – Flintlock Musket & Rifle Demonstrations – Tavern Life – Militia Drill
Colonial Music – Leatherwork – Wool Processing – Colonial Games – 18th Century Camp Life
And Much More!!!
All activities are weather dependent. Schedule is subject to change or cancellation.
Good Morning everyone,
We now have our nine stations and station leaders set for the September School Day on the 25th.
Stations are as follows…
Revolutionary War Weaponry – Tony DeVault
Colonial Games – Kay Milsaps
Colonial Handwriting – Ramona Invidiato
Hides and Tanning – Kim Palmer & Earl Stalge
Trail Foods and Overmountain Man Gear – Ken & Retha Reece
Colonial Clothing – Worley & Lisa Bennett
Fort/Cabin Life – Chenoa Patton & Rachel Bennett
Artistry – Richard Luce
Museum/Gift Shop – Park Staff
STATION LEADERS*** Have your station set up and ready to go by 9:00 am Friday, September 25th.
Rotations are 15 minutes each. Rotations begin at 9:30. Lunch Break 11:00 – 12:00. Rotations end at 12:45
Thank you to all who volunteered to assists in this event. We couldn’t do it without you.
As always please contact me with any questions, comments or concerns.
Chad A. Bogart
Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area
1651 W. Elk Ave.
Elizabethton, TN 37643
ED NOTE: The September muster is September 26-27. The school day and TN State Guard program is Friday, Sept. 25.
Good Afternoon Everyone,
The September Muster and School Day is fast approaching.
The School day will be Friday, September 25th from 9:00 until 1:00.
I need to know if anyone is willing to operate a station during the school visit. We need 9 stations. The rotations will be 15 minutes each. There will be a break for lunch. The OVTA will be lending a hand this year as well.
Please let me know if you can provide a station and what you would like to present.
This is going to be a very busy and hectic day as the kids will be leaving around 1:00 – the River Crossing is at 2:00 (100 TN state guardsmen will be crossing with the OVTA) – then, the TN state guard march-in and presentation will follow the crossing.
This brings me to another point. For the TN State Guard “March-In” they want a timeline represented in the parade. We will be representing Rev. War Militia and 1812 period. I need to know how many of you are willing to participate in this and which era you wish to represent. Remember, this is directly following the crossing on Friday the 25th, so I’m guessing it will be around 3:00 pm at the park amphitheater.
A lot to process I know, but it will be a day to remember I’m sure… for many reasons J
Let me know what you can do. Anything you can provide will be greatly appreciated, as always.
I remain your most obedient servant,